Pope Francis gestures during a meeting with the media onboard the papal plane while en route to Rome, Italy, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Daniel Dal Zennaro/Pool
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Father Ernest Simoni, an 88-year-old Albanian, was watching Pope Francis on television this month when, to his astonishment, he heard the pontiff mention his name. Francis announced that the simple, white-haired Roman Catholic priest, who had spent many years in jail during Albania's communist dictatorship, was to become a cardinal.It was the first that Simoni, or any of the other 16 new cardinals named by Francis at the same time, had heard of their elevation to the prestigious rank. Behind Francis' approach is a clear mandate, received from the worldwide cardinals who elected him in 2013, to overhaul the curia.Over the decades the Vatican's administration has collected some of the Church's most orthodox officials, partly because of the lieutenants that Francis' two highly conservative predecessors called to their entourages in Rome.As a result, Francis believes that only by reducing the power of the curia – including surprising it on some decisions – can the 1.2 billion-member Church embrace those who have felt marginalized, such as gays and the divorced.Francis was impressed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney when he met the Australian in 2013 .Insiders say the Pell and Chaouqui cases are examples of Francis making decisions too quickly.
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